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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Language Lesson - Heraldry

Heraldry - What is it?  I mentioned doing language lessons a while back about terminology related to genealogy.  I suppose I should live up to that previous post.

I came across the term 'heraldry' years ago when I was seeking "write-ups" about the individual surnames within my family tree.  Various heraldry websites would come up in the search engine results online.  So what is heraldry?

The word herald comes from a Germanic word referring to an "army commander".  When it comes to family surnames it mainly revolves around the coat of arms and family crest.  It appears to expand into the "write ups" about the meaning of specific surnames too.

Irish heraldry seems to have heavy influence from the Gaels, Anglo-Normans, and the English.  From what I've read online, the Irish still did their own thing when it came to heraldry in and around the 1600s when the English were still trying to refine their rules and things were in constant flux.  Let's just say that maybe the Irish kept it simple.  That can be a good thing for sure.  There is a regulatory division in Ireland who grant coats of arms and monitor the official use of them from what it sounds like.

Heraldry is also considered a way of tracing one's genealogies.  I agree with this statement but it is a rather generic genealogy.  I suppose if all you can find or know is your surname and cannot trace the family line, then the high level, general information about the surname is all you can hold onto.  I know that's what is going on for several of my family lines at this time.  It does give us a sense of where our ancestors came from.  That can be a comfort and give us a goal of where we might want to travel.

I'm not sold on heraldry merchandise but I do own some.  I suppose it gives one hope of finding more about your family line someday.

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